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Anxiety and The “Good Enough” Parent

Anxiety and The “Good Enough” Parent

We all need a safe place, where we can tell the truth about our daily struggles and be cared about without fear of rejection. So often anxiety is increased by not having a place to struggle and experience security at the same time. The “good enough” parent can create...
Discovering My Neediness In Parenting

Discovering My Neediness In Parenting

Working with children, teens, and families has taught me many impactful lessons throughout my years of practice. One lesson that rings true for me more than ever is: parenting is not for the faint of heart, but the strong and courageous. They say it is the hardest job...
Surviving Back to School Chaos

Surviving Back to School Chaos

“Mom, I am so sad.” On the way home from tax-free weekend shopping, my son, gazing out the window as we passed his old middle school, said, “Oh Mom, I’m so sad. I will miss my old middle school.” In that moment, I realized that I was sad too....
Two Gifts Children Need

Two Gifts Children Need

Children are human just like parents, except that they are younger. A great separation between the parent and the child, however, is that children neither know, nor have they experienced all that the parent has found out or been through. With that reality in mind,...

A Parent List

Our lives as parents must not be about perfection, but about the courage of affection. We live our affection clearly and courageously through confession of the following, and we must do so imperfectly because that is the nature of life. Remember that affection is no...

Parenting with Heart, Part 3

It was a beautiful spring night in early April. The trees were budding. The days were getting warmer, but the nights were still cool. Heather and Emma Claire were at a movie. I (Stephen) was bowling with our youngest sons, Henry and Teddy. Elijah was off at a friend’s...

Parenting with Heart, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I (Stephen) was having a conversation with one of my sons and Heather in the kitchen. We were going round and round, and the conversation was precariously teetering on the verge of a blowup. My son looked me square in the eye and said, “You only...

Parenting with Heart

This is an excerpt from Parenting with Heart: How Imperfect Parents Can Raise Resilient, Loving, and Wise-Hearted Kids, by Stephen James and Chip Dodd  One of my sons (Chip’s) and I went on a fly-fishing trip a few years ago. He was out of college, gone from our...

Learning to Fail

There is no doubt that our culture is bent on the pursuit of success; we see it everywhere. In turn, the idea of failure is one that we expend a lot of focus and energy avoiding and helping others avoid, especially our children.     In my First-Year Seminar course for...

Lightning Bugs

I noticed the other evening just before dark the lightning bugs flickering here and there. To me, like the robin heralds spring, lightning bugs announce summer. When I was a child, some summer nights my brothers and sister and neighbor kids spent hours catching...

Trees

When my sons were little, we planted a slim stick of a poplar tree beside our driveway. We must have planted it during the exact sign of the moon in Farmer’s Almanac, or something like that. The poplar grew very fast, from no more than a stick 18 inches tall to four...

You Really Do Matter

My son had been moved to a hospital room after surgery. He had only hours before undergone a complicated procedure in which he had a tumor removed from his spinal cord. Sonya would not leave his side more than a few hours for the next five days, and would be beside...

Small Matters Matter

My sixteen year old, youngest son and I pulled into the driveway one night on the way home from youth service at church. William was suffering from a significant muscle tear in his hip, a baseball injury. Even more, though, he ached from the heart pain of loss. He had...

A Great Sadness

The heart of the human being often becomes a rejected treasure that children begin to hide when they do not experience themselves as pursued and affirmed. This common experience is a great sadness. When the heart is experienced as the enemy of the child, then God,...

What Children Want

We are born to grow into who we are created to become, so we can do what we are created to do. Children grow from within by having their hearts affirmed and confirmed by caregivers. Affirmation says, “Yes” to how a child is created as an emotional and spiritual...

The Cost of Gladness

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Joy has a Cost

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Fear of Children

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Sometimes It Hurts

The Gift of Living in Tension with Heartache There is great pain in trying to be authentic, living in the tension of family, work, faith, hobbies, and other responsibilities in a way that reflects who we want to be. The pain of not being with the people we most love...

What Your Adolescent Really Needs

When I tell people I work with teenagers, I usually get some version of this response: “Wow, that’s a tough age. You must be really patient, brave, or crazy.” I may be a little bit of all three. The changes that occur in the teenage years make working with...